Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Read-Along, Tolkien, J.R.R.

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

TheHobbitI read The Hobbit for a read-along hosted by Rick @ Another Book Blog. The read-along ends on June 22, but because I will be participating in a Lord of the Rings read-along hosted by Robert @ 101 Books starting this Thursday, I thought to get The Hobbit out of the way as soon as possible. This wasn’t difficult since The Hobbit was a fast-paced and enjoyable read.

What was it about?

Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End is a hobbit like any other. He sits to six meals a day and enjoys blowing smoke rings and drinking locally-brewed ale. But one day, a mysterious wizard arrives at Bilbo’s doorstep. This wizard is Gandalf, an individual known throughout the Shire for his fireworks and outlandish tales. Since Bilbo has voiced on many occasions a desire to go on an adventure, Gandalf selects the hobbit to accompany thirteen dwarves on a quest to The Lonely Mountain. Smaug the dragon lives there with untold gold and treasures it stole from the dwarves. The leader of the Company of Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror, needs Bilbo’s help to reclaim the treasures of his people. Because of his small size, Bilbo is to be The Burglar. He may be an ordinary hobbit at the start of the tale, but Gandalf is convinced that he is exactly what the Company needs. The next morning, at a quarter to 11 , Bilbo reluctantly leaves an unfinished meal to join Thorin and his friends on the long journey to the end of the world. They pass through the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood Forest, encountering trolls, elves, goblins, and men along the way. Under the Misty Mountains, in the lake of a hate-filled creature named Gollum, Bilbo finds a ring that when worn makes him invisible. With no little struggle and thanks to the magic ring, Bilbo escapes from Gollum and joins the Company at the other side of the mountains. The ring proves to be a valuable companion, helping Bilbo save his friends from peril. But Smaug is notoriously dangerous, and Bilbo and the dwarves fear they will never again return home.

What did I think of it?

It is not without reason that J.R.R. Tolkien is considered the father of modern High Fantasy. His stories are compelling and his writing is gorgeous. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are heavily inspired by medieval myth and lore. The Hobbit is really about the journey. Tolkien goes into great pains to describe the world he has invented. The reader feels like he/she is getting an aerial view of  the landscape of Middle-earth. Bilbo, although possessing heroic qualities, is a character I could really relate to. He loves adventures in theory, but in practice, much prefers the comfort and security of his home.

I am grateful to the creators of the LOTR Project for having created an interactive map of Middle-earth. The map at the front of the book is valuable, but because I read The Hobbit on Kindle, I couldn’t easily flip back and forth between the map and the story. I suggest that readers take notes on important events in the story because these events and characters come up again in the trilogy. Here are a few of the questions I asked myself while reading the book:

What if Bilbo never had the ring? Could he have survived his journey to the Lonely Mountain without the ring?

Why does Gandalf choose Bilbo? Why does Gandalf agree to take Bilbo on that adventure?

The formatting of the Kindle version is not perfect, but Tolkien’s illustrations are included and they really enhance the reading experience. The Hobbit is a masterpiece. What I wouldn’t give to be able to write like Tolkien! I am glad Rick hosted the read-along.

Favorite Quote

[Thorin]: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”